Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Mar 9, 2016

Some Thoughts While Touch Typing

I am transcribing a very long family history manuscript by a cousin twice removed. I find myself being astonished by touch typing. I haven't done any sustained typing like this in years. I am also rather amazed that I made a living doing this for long periods as a university secretary pre-PCs. My shoulders and upper back are aching.

I keep thinking about the way touch typing works.
Sometimes I literally spell the word out in my head and my fingers automatically go to the right keys, fast. Sometimes I just read/ think the whole word and poof, it's keyed. Sometimes I think I just see the word (esp words like and, the) and my brain and fingers make it happen without my silently reading it. 
Some words I spell part of the word in my head and my brain/finger connection finishes it. I do that with the word L-O-U-I-S ville.

However it goes, it is seems to me like a magical act - an elegant collaboration, neurological ledgerdemain.

I am also thinking about my mother, who left the planet in 2008, not only because this is maternal line family history, but because she made numerous annotations to this manuscript: 
"we have the blanket chest used by Sudie on the Ohio River packet boats"
"we are related to him [John Greenleaf Whittier] - my daughter George-Anna has a quilt made by his aunt"
"she started a home for unwed mothers"
So I am feeling like Mama's peering over my shoulder, pleased that I am getting this preserved on the computer, pleased I am enjoying her marginal chitchat.

And I am also remembering how Mama could no longer type, could no longer work a typewriter, really at all, when dementia came in and yanked her out of her life. This was a woman for whom a typewriter was more necessary than an iron or even a cooking pot. She typed her own writing, of course, and I remember her earning money typing manuscripts for others, in particular, a children's author named Mariana Prieto. (I will make my own marginal note here - what I most remember about Mariana was that she seemed rather highstrung and we children seemed to give her migraines.)

Before everything collapsed for her, before it became clear that she was ill with a memory illness, my mother became obsessed with trying to type again. She thought she just needed practice. She thought she needed a better typewriter. A simpler typewriter. A manual needed more strength than she had, so I searched for new, then secondhand electrics. The new were all computer-y - even I could hardly fathom them. Shaun came over one day to try to break the workings down for both of us, but it was no use. I probably bought and returned three typewriters. Once she had been moved to the nursing home area of the continuing care community she lived in, the typing subject still came up. Her care plan always included, at her insistence, that she have a typewriter and space to practice, though she never actually availed herself of it when they did provide it.

Even before dementia, my mother was a bit obsessed with typewriters. There was not a secondhand manual at any yard sale she could pass up. Once someone broke into the old storage garage behind the house in Miami and mother said, 'typewriters were strewn all over the yard.' afterward.
I inherited this obsession and pretty soon after moving here I had five typewriters, all bought for $5-10 at yard sales. My mother, upon hearing that Molly, then 5, was learning to write stories, packed up one of her typewriters and shipped it to her. Molly, too, took to typing, and by age 7 when we got a computer, she said "I want to type like you, with both hands" and she zoomed through Mavis Beacon lessons and had a typing speed of 35 wpm, 98% accuracy. Which is what I had when I got that job at the University of Miami.

 It is probable I am married to Paul because of my typing speed. It wasn't fast enough for the jobs I really wanted, in the Bookstore or the English Department. They said I could go home and practice and take the test again the next day or I could go interview in the Dept. of Economics because they only required 35 wpm. I went on the interview and was offered that job and took it because I really wanted to not be a waitress anymore and have health benefits. 
About 3 months later, Dr. Paul B. arrived in the Department. I was very excited about meeting this new professor as his mail had started coming first and there were very interesting return addresses, like Socialist Party USA...

So I'm thinking about all this as I type this manuscript on my computer - and wondering do we still say 'type?'  I have googled and apparently we do. Just like we (those of us who haven’t completely gone over to texting) still dial phone numbers and hang up (after leaving messages for those of us who no longer answer phones or listen to messages.)

 I have whittled down my own typewriter collection, to a honey of a 1956 manual typewriter my mother somehow found to buy at the retirement community - a Smith Corona in a beautiful case with the handbook and keys; and two really compact beauties, one a Swinger in a late 60s aqua case with a transistor radio in the cover. I've got extra ribbons and carbon paper, so I'm prepared, if the electricity and the social order fail, to type for the underground and the resistance. And for poetry.

Mar 2, 2016

Checking in...

I thought I was going to write that I have only been working on poetry and that's why I have neglected the blog. But then I looked around for some photos and see that I do have some visual art to share.
I will make my poetry be the subject of another post.

I just uploaded a bunch of pictures that show what I've been up to in recent months. Now I'll try to post a few comments.

This is a Jane Thornley piece, the Holey Cowl.  I used only 3 yarns and almost all of the color change is Mr. Noro's doing. I believe it's Noro Kibou- very cotton-y.

I would say that I have worn this more than I have worn most of the things I have knitted.  It has been a totally perfect and practical piece. I usually wear it around my head, draping down like a scarf under my winter coat. It has kept me warm and deeply satisfied my freeform aesthetic.

This is a scarf I am still working on, it's my traveling project, the thing I grab to amuse myself when I'm out and about.  I started a plan to name my projects - just give them whatever name occurs to me.
Meet Bartholomew. He's random stitching, a bit hole-y as well and yes, Mr. Noro. Kibou - or possibly Taiyo DK.

I found myself desiring to add some new skills to my expressive art journey - painting, mixed media. I took an online course through Brave Girl University - Katie Kendrick's Layered Impressions - no longer available there, but she does have it as an eBook on her website.
It was fun, I didn't do nearly all the activities, but it was a great way to start familiarizing myself with tools and materials.

I decided to go ahead and plunge into an even more intensive course of Katie's - Grit and Grace. I have barely begun that, though it has been weeks. Part of my problem was that my studio space is in the basement and some of the materials really need to be used with good ventilation. So I am putting off immersing myself until the weather is warm enough for me to work on my back porch.
I did do this as one of the first week's mark-making exercises

Then there was the making of a deck of cards with Mindy Tsonas' Inner Alchemy Circle. I joined in for the Air Coven cards (Earth and Fire have already been done and Water is upcoming in April)

I carved a feather stamp to be the symbol on the back of all my cards. We were given 28 archetypes for which we were free to collage, draw, paint images on our cards.  I chose to go simple - one central image for each card primarily.  It was fun and I hope to make more cards. I think I am going to have to forego the Water Coven  because I have a great deal of pending workshop activities along with keeping up with my poetry and submissions of my work to various publications.

The Outcast.

The Teacher (this from a National Geographic article on how a group of people were teaching baby cranes to do things so they could live in the wild. They had to do everything dressed as cranes...)

The Hermit.

FINALLY, finished my Stephen West blanket. This is the third winter I've worked on it. I managed to knit myself a frozen shoulder the first winter, two years ago. I worked on it a bit last winter and this winter I was determined to finish it. Very carefully - using a pillow to support my right arm.  I really loved working on it when it got big enough to cover me nicely.  It is heavy, and very smooshy. 

Here it is, posing on the back of my sofa (please ignore the messy bookshelves).

What I also loved about this blanket was that I was able to use a lot of the enormous stash of Noro Kureyon I have. I have come to admit that Kureyon, as color-spectacular as it is, is just too rough to use for anything that has a chance of touching skin.
HOWEVER - please note that combining it as I did here (held double with the Noro), with a soft, non-scratchy yarn, has the potential to mitigate the roughness. I used Encore, which is acrylic/wool blend and one of the few synthetic yarns that gets past my natural fiber snobbery.
In any case, this blanket is snuggly goodness.

Crafty fun with my granddaughter. This is Sister Dazzled-By-The-Light, a nun from the Order of the Hair of the Holy Spirit.

Time out for a nasty weeklong cold, finally vanquished when I remembered about nasal washing with Nasopure (better than neti for me) and keeping our humidifiers going.

From my stitchery sampler, where I practice things - I was ecstatic seeing that I could stitch and do tiny French knots after my cataract surgery.

Work-in-progress. I think of this as textile collage....

Scraps from fiber artist Deborah Lacativa - after washing and ironing them.  I am such a process person. I get an incredible amount of pleasure just looking at these random, hand-dyed scraps and then from touching them, smoothing them, ironing them.  I've used a few in the piece above.

I have definitely been neglecting any significant weaving, but one day I decided to do a quick piece, thinking of Sheila Hicks and her almost-daily practice of creating small weavings on her simple frame loom.

And finally - a freeform mystery.
I am working diligently to tidy up my studio and a lot of other places where things have accumulated.
I am not at all sure where I was going with these bits and pieces, but it looked kind of intriguing to me.

It feels good to have created a post.
Next time, I'll write about where I'm going with my poetry.